Burlesque with a bit of zing

2011-05-14 00:00

IF you fancy indulging in some truly burlesque entertainment, then you simply can’t afford to miss seeing Madame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams at the Suncoast Casino in Durban from June 1.

The dinner cirque spectacular will take place in an elegant mirror tent, and boasts a number of new acts, as well as a decadent four-course feast.

Among the headliners this year are The Little Queen of Tarts, a sassy past master at the art of quick change; and the Original Tons, who are guaranteed to get any crowd on its feet with their larger-than-life renditions of Motown smash hits.

Rory Avenstrup, who plays the live wire Little Queen of Tarts, holds firm that “dynamite comes in small packages”. As one of the cirque’s anchor­ performers, Avenstrup is an experienced actress and puppeteer with performances on stage and film.

Movie buffs will remember her in Paljas, directed by Katinka Heyns, where she took the role of Solly. “It was submitted to the 70th Oscars for best foreign film, which was very important to me because it meant I was part of the then newly democratic South Africa’s optimistic first submission to the Academy Awards,” Avenstrup said.

Another memorable role was in Woman of Desire with Bo Derek and Robert Mitchum.

The Original Tons is one of South Africa’s best-loved female groups and has wowed audiences both locally­ and abroad for over six years. Originally known as Three Tons of Fun, they became The Original Tons when they joined the cast at Madame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams.

During the show they celebrate the smash hits of Motown and the great disco divas including Aretha Franklin, The Pointer Sisters, The Supremes and Gladys Knight. Their performance is funky, foot-stomping and, most of all, the best uplifting fun around.

Also on the bill are Stella Magaba, who hails from Fort Beaufort and began her career singing in community choirs and has several theatre productions and TV shows under her belt; the charismatic Lilian Khumalo, from Johannesburg, who trained as a cordon bleu chef and studied human resources, public relations and marketing before following her heart to the stage; and Salome Damon, who hails from Mitchells Plain in Cape Town. Her powerful Tina Turner-inspired voice has been her stock in trade since the age of 15.

Accompanying them is a veritable united nations of performers who perform death-defying aerial acts, mind-bending contortions and the most astounding roller-skating performance in the world.

Madame Zingara managing director­ Richard Griffin said he was delighted to be taking the Theatre of Dreams back to Durban. “The city has welcomed us with open arms before and this year it will feel like coming home. Everyone involved in the production is raring to go and determined to wow the Zulu Kingdom once again,” he added.

Founded in 2001 by Griffin, Madame­ Zingara was originally an 80-seater restaurant nestled in the heart of Cape Town’s city centre, known for its outlandish glitter-dusted service and Griffin’s whimsical culinary creations.

Disaster struck in 2006 when the restaurant was burnt to the ground, Unable to rebuild what was lost, the Zingara family created the Theatre of Dreams — an enthralling travelling dinner cirque extravaganza housed in one of the last remaining antique mirror tents in the world.


What you need to know

• Madame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams will take place in the grounds of the Suncoast Casino in Durban. At the main entrance turn left and be directed to parking lot three.

• The dinner cirque spectacular runs from June 1 to August 13.

• To book phone Madame Zingara’s box office at 0861 MADAME or 086 162 3632.

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